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Firefighters gain upper hand in battle against La Tuna Fire

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Photo: FLLewis / Media City G -- Verdugo Mountains behind Sears 111 East Magnolia Blvd. Burbank September 5, 2017

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G — Verdugo Mountains behind Sears 111 East Magnolia Blvd. Burbank September 5, 2017

The skies are clearer over the Verdugo Mountains and Burbank as firefighters gain the upper hand on the La Tuna Fire. The huge smoky clouds and, sometimes, flames we saw on those hills over the weekend are no longer visible, but fire officials say the threat is not over yet.

The wildfire broke out Friday afternoon, September 1, near La Tuna Canyon Road in Sun Valley. Aided by swiftly changing winds, the flames went on a rampage. On Saturday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti  signed a declaration of local emergency paving the way for more resources to fight the La Tuna fire, believed to be one of the largest, in terms of acreage, in Los Angeles city history.

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G -- Smoke and some fire in the Verdugo Mountains above Downtown Burbank September 3, 2017

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G — Smoke and some fire in the Verdugo Mountains above Downtown Burbank September 3, 2017

On Sunday, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County due to the La Tuna Fire.  More than a thousand firefighters helped beat back the flames and douse hot spots. Fire crews were fighting the winds, heat, and very humid conditions as well. Then, they got a break from the weather at around 1:pm in the form of a quick burst of rain.  More episodes of light showers and somewhat cooler temperatures gave the fire fighting effort a boost.

Emergency Shelter

That afternoon, I checked out the disaster relief shelter set up by the Red Cross at McCambridge Recreation Center on Glenoaks Blvd. in Burbank .

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G -- Disaster relief center for those forced to evacuate their homes set up by Red Cross at McCambridge Recreation Center 155 North Glenoaks Blvd Burbank September 3, 2017

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G — Disaster relief center for those forced to evacuate their homes set up by Red Cross at McCambridge Recreation Center 1515 North Glenoaks Blvd Burbank September 3, 2017

There weren’t any evacuees on site Sunday, but apparently the shelter had been used.

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G -- Mimi Teller, Public Relations American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles at disaster shelter for fire victims in Burbank September 3, 2017

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G — Mimi Teller, Public Relations American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles at disaster shelter for fire victims in Burbank September 3, 2017

Mimi Teller, Public Relations for American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles, said they had  “12 people” overnight and on Saturday, when mandatory evacuations were in effect, the shelter was buzzing with fire victims and activity.

Monday – Labor Day

By Labor Day, most of the flames appeared to be out, but the scarred Verdugo hillsides still smoldered. All evacuations were lifted and a section of the 210 freeway in the Sunland-Tujunga area, shut down by the fire, was reopened. During the long holiday weekend, several hundred residents in Los Angeles, Burbank, and Glendale had to evacuate. Most, but not all, returned to find their homes safe.

Tuesday Update

At a morning media briefing today, Captain Erik Scott, Los Angeles Fire Department, said the flames came within 200 feet of about 1400 structures. Unfortunately, five homes, including a mobile home, were destroyed along with five other structures, such as garages and sheds. There were 8 injuries, most minor or heat related.

The fire fight has moved into the containment stage with hand crews. “We have an army of boots on the ground,  that are down and dirty,doing a great job in very rugged and remote terrain,” according to Captain Scott.

Late Tuesday, containment was raised to 80 percent with 7,194 acres burned. Around 1,615 acres were scorched in Burbank. A little over 700 firefighters are still on site. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. No word yet on when the mopping up effort will be completed.

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